Re: ballet in cyberspace

Leslie Bishko (
Wed, 21 May 1997 20:45:16 -0700 (PDT)

Hello David and others,
Yes I'm still here - barely keeping up with the pace of this list and if it
weren't for Lisa's phone call I would have deleted this email cause I wasn't
following the ballet thread!!

(David - I'm using a new account cause the old one kept bouncing my email:

David responded:
* Susie Crow wrote:
* > I would like to know if there are other kinds of software for creating
* dance
* movement which perhaps are more abstracted and less tied to an anatomical
* > image of the human body.

* You objection to Lifeformes is that one has to define key frames and I
* suppose
* that dancers are likely to use positions for key frames if the latter are
* points in time and space which have some sort of structural significance.
* Is this not how one delimits so-called "movement phrases" and differentiates
* them from others?

* Laban's effort schema is one approach and probably the
* most rigorous. Leslie Bishko at Simon Fraser University was researching
* the use of effort elements in computer animation; last time I heard from
* her, she was having some difficulty translating Flow to animation parameters.

Thanks for the plug, David! I agree that keyframing movement is a limited
way of looking at movement, but it's the way that animators have always worked.
I am a computer animator and have been blending my dance background with my
animation work since I stumbled on the Labanotation classes at OSU in 1990.
In 95 I got my certification in Laban Movement Analysis, which is not
notation training specifically, but a more wholisic incorporation of Laban's
theories as brought to the US by Irmgard Bartenieff, and developed by her
colleagues and successors. My research began with incorporating spatial
pathways for the frame by frame positions of joints as the body moves through
space - focusing on the flow from position to position, instead of the fixed
feeling of a keyframe pose (as in LifeForms).

Once I became more experienced with LMA theory, I found my initial approach
to be short sighted. Principles of total body connectivity are needed to
help ground the figure in digital space - to get the body parts moving in
a way that connects them and gives them a relationship with the vertical:
ie. gravity. Weight is difficult to achieve in animation. Many commercial
(expensive) packages have solutions to this problem - and as others have
pointed out, LF does not aspire to compete with these packages. Its
strength is as a composition tool. It does not give you a sophisticated way
of smoothing out the flow between poses.

As Susie Crow describes above, Laban's Effort qualities: Space, Weight, Time
and Flow, are abstractions that are independent of anatomy. I will not go
into an intro to this theory here...but if there is interest I'll dig up some
written material I have and post it to the list. My goal is to develop
some animation tools (most likely a software plug-in) that will help the
animator create movement that feels alive with a range of movement qualities
that carry emotional content. Lots of people are blabbing about this now
with "avatars." This is a high-level approach. I'm still interested in
the keyframing process because it works for animators - it is based in actual
movement, and it offers a parallel of sorts to aspects of Laban's thinking.
I want to embellish keyframing with more sophisticated ways of editing the
movement so that the animation really comes to life.

* there
* is little on the capture side other than Sally Jane Norman's experiments
* (again seemingly aimed at arriving at an animation)
Jean Denney did some motion-sensing work with Robb Lovell at Arizona State
to see what Laban's space harmony scales would look like.

Hmm, where will this thread go next?
- Leslie

Leslie Bishko

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